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BBSRC supports postgraduate training to help ensure the flow of highly qualified people into careers within and outside academia.

We fund around 2000 PhD students each year in universities, research institutes or industrial partners, with an approximate funding total of £43.5M p.a.

The PhD is the first step towards a career in research, and provides training for a range of opportunities. BBSRC students go on to work in academia, industry, government research and a range of other careers.

We seek to support scientists throughout their careers though a range of activities.

Our vision of moving towards more predictive biology needs to be underpinned by training that is increasingly interdisciplinary. Many exciting advances in our understanding of biological systems will emerge at the interfaces between biology, chemistry, physics and engineering. The mathematical modelling needed for a systems biology approach poses unique challenges.

Case study: Two-month central Government placement for BBSRC-funded student

When PhD student Nick Chapman was offered a two-month placement1 with the Office for Life Sciences (OLS), part of Business Group within the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), he seized the opportunity to understand how central Government supports the scientific community.

Nick Chapman

Working within the OLS Biotechnology Team, Nick led a project investigating the use of biological knowledge across the UK economy with a view to recommending future business policy direction for the OLS. Nick, a Durham University student who is based at Rothamsted Research, an Institute of BBSRC, said, “This placement exposed me to a broad range of policy issues that impact on the business environment for life sciences companies in the UK such as regulation, translation of science and market access.

“I gained an insight into the role of Government in dealing with these issues – including the opportunity to lead discussions with other Government departments, biotechnology companies, trade bodies, skills academies and research councils.

“It was interesting to work in an environment that views science differently from academia. I now have a better understanding of where the opportunities are for scientists across the whole spectrum of sectors – something that I simply would not have had without completing this placement.”

“On a personal note, it gave me the opportunity to test out a potential career path and enabled me to develop my communication and writing skills – writing a policy document requires very different language than a scientific article! I was fortunate to be given a huge amount of ownership for the project and it is a fantastic feeling to know that you are working with colleagues to influence aspects of the science that you love from the top down.”

Find out more about OLS at or contact Dr Robert Porteous or Dr Hannah Jones on tel: 020 2715 5000.

1 funded by Durham University's Graduate School